One of the hardest challenges that accompanies every mental disorder is explaining to others what it's like to have one – how it feels to be held back by anxiety, crushed by depression, destroyed by anorexia. Some may take you seriously, but others may say that since it's all in your head, you should be able to ignore the disorder, to just make it go away as you please. It's hard to see the effects of most disorders, and the evidence left by others can be misconstrued into drastic means of getting attention.
Consequently, mental disorders are not taken as seriously as they should be. As someone who has experience with dealing with mental disorders as well as supporting others who struggle with them, I decided to use artwork as a means of bringing attention to the realities of life with of a number of disorders and the sensations brought about by such ordeals. Through each piece of my concentration, I aim to depict the universal internal feelings and struggles that one with each respectable disorder has to deal with. Each person has unique experiences, but there are common symptoms shared among all. This particular piece illustrates in watercolor the feeling of having an anxiety disorder – from separation anxiety to social anxiety. You feel vulnerable and exposed, blinded by the fear of the situation, and you feel as if you're on fire as your natural flight-or-fight response kicks in. You feel like everyone's eyes are fixated on you, that they can sense your panic, and you think that nothing will get better. You have that feeling in your stomach that comes when you tip your chair too far back or miss a step on the stairs, but it lasts for seconds, minutes, even hours. You can't function, either to your full potential or at all, and this feeds the anxiety, creating an endless cycle.
As the most common mental disorder in the United States, it would seem that anxiety would be treated with the same diligence as any other incapacitating disease, but it's not. Obsessive compulsive disorder is misinterpreted and joked about as just being a perfectionist; crippling social anxiety is synonymous with being shy; reactions brought about by serious phobias are seen as overreacting. The lack of knowledge about mental disorders shared by the general public has prevented many from receiving the proper support and encouragement that they need, and by physically depicting the general experiences of mental disorders through images, I hope to create a better understanding between those who are affected and the people around them.